Dreaming of Apricot Jam--Again . . .
Years ago, when we moved to our current house, the neighborhood had fruit trees in most of the back yards. A person could walk alleys and see plums, apricots, peaches, figs and other fruit dropping, unused. Back then, I would wait until the evening, or perhaps until the weekend, then knock on a door and ask about getting some fruit. In almost every case where a door was answered, I got free fruit—people were happy to get rid of some. I would always return some of that fruit in the form of jam and it was always well received.
Fortunately for me, today I just arranged a date to go apricot picking this week—Whoo-HOO! This came as a fortunate result of going out to breakfast with my sister and some of her friends. My jam-making was mentioned and one person said she had apricots ripening up and would be glad to share with me. My, my, HOME-Grown apricots, the best kind!
Every flat container I have will be put to use: cookie sheets with rims, square metal baking pans (I love picking up odd and multiple sizes of pans at thrift shops and the like), anything else that is shallow and has a rim of some sort. This way, the 'cots will only be one or two layers deep and will, it is to be hoped, keep for a day or two so that I can jar 'em, process 'em and store 'em as apricot halves and jam.
Most likely I will not get a humongous amount. I will be VERY happy to get enough to make a couple of batches of jam, and if I only get enough to make a pie, that will be good also! Maybe there will be some dropped apricots to be rake for my chickens.
Of course some jam will be returned to my apricot benefactor!
If you have some fruit coming up and wish to share/get rid of it, let me know—I am willing to drive. And my pomegranate trees look to be going crazy with fruit this fall, so maybe we can trade?
NEWSFLASH!! Just got the apricots yesterday. The tree was not totally ripe, which is not unusual. I was able to get enough to make an apricot pie. . . Maybe next week more for some jam?
I leave you now with to solid recipes, one with added pectin and one without:
Apricot Jam. Makes 3-4 jars
This is a recipe based on one from David Liebowitz-his recipes work (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/apricot-jam/). It is a no added pectin recipe:
This recipe as written is on the tart side. Give it a try!
– 2 1/4 pounds (1kg) fresh apricots
(TIP: home grown are best, or get the small apricots that you can sometimes find, if you are fortunate, at a farmer's market. Ask the name of the variety of apricot they are selling. If they are Blenheims or Royal, you are in for classic, tasty jam!)
– 1/4 cup (60ml) water
– 3 cups (600g) sugar
– 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
optional: 1 teaspoon kirsch
Put a small plate in the freezer.
Pit the apricot and cut into chunks. Place the apricots in a stockpot or Dutch oven, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through. (TIP: You will want the widest pot you have, with the lowest sides to cook this jam quickly without over cooking. I use a two gallon stainless-steel dutch oven to cook my jam; it is wider than it is deep)
Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn't burning on the bottom. (TIP: I add ½ tsp butter when starting to cook the fruit to cut down on the foaming. And remember that any foamed jam you may skim is quite tasty...)
When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. (TIP: Again, turn off the heat so the jam doesn't burn or overcook!) Put the plate back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the nudge test: Push the edge of the dab of jam and if it mounds and wrinkles, it's done. If not, put the plate back in the freezer and continue to cook. Then re-test the jam until it reaches that consistency.(You can use a candy thermometer if you wish. The finished jam will be about 220ºF, 104ºC.)
Once done, stir in the lemon juice and ladle jam into clean jars. Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.
For shelf-safe storage you may process in a boiling water bath as in the next recipe, last paragraph, if you wish.
Certo Apricot Jam (added pectin)
3-1/2 cups prepared fruit (buy about 2-1/2 lb. fully ripe apricots)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
5-3/4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
1 pouch CERTO Fruit Pectin
Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.
Remove and discard apricot pits. Finely chop apricots – no need to peel first. Measure exactly 3-1/2 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepan. Stir in lemon juice.
Stir sugar into prepared fruit in saucepan. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)